It’s time to evolve from the holidays on the corporate work calendar of years past. But rather than transition away from only celebrating company milestones and fun “celebration” days, we recommend expanding the idea to create greater inclusion and belonging within your workplace.
In May alone, there are numerous observances, awareness days and months (this list is far from complete):
Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month
Jewish American Heritage Month
Mental Health Awareness Month
Women’s Health Week
Nurses Appreciation Week
Teacher Appreciation Week/Day
The end of Ramadan 2021
Cinco de Mayo
Memorial Day, honoring personnel fallen while serving military duties
Often we hear from our clients, “It’s just not possible to celebrate every holiday at our company because if we did, no one would ever work”. We are not suggesting adding a lot of company days off (if you have designated holidays,) or even hosting a celebratory lunch or potluck (or virtual happy hour) to celebrate all the various cultural months and days. But it is important to be intentional about what cultural celebrations you do honor and recognize, that our traditional approach no longer works in a global multicultural 21st century workplace that fosters inclusion and belonging.
While there are many ways to support your employees, here are three easy ways to let them know you recognize and appreciate their differences and encourage them to share their heritage and stories:
Rethink sanctioned company holidays so that they are not just aligned with national Holidays; consider offering more floating holidays as needed and opportunities for flexible work schedules.
Rather than direct how observances are celebrated, engage with your employees — through Inclusion Groups and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or open forums — for ideas without placing the burden on them to deliver a program or event. Once informed, provide opportunities to share stories and traditions informally, acknowledge celebrations in company newsletters, and invite the greater employee population to learn about other cultures through these celebrations. Invest in Inclusion Groups/ERGs providing a budget to bring in speakers and workshops to inspire employees (and educate allies).
Acknowledging the events, movements and moments your employees experience will allow all voices to be heard. When leaders make it clear that that these moments matter, and themselves use these opportunities to learn about other cultures, the corporate culture shifts to one that is more inclusive in a deeply meaningful way.
As a reminder: The continuous current events of systemic racism and antisemitism show that our marginalized communities are still under attack. Here is a comprehensive list of resources to support and take action:
AAPI Support and Allyship
Integrate action that advances AAPI identities in addition to the #StopAsianHate and #HateisaVirus movements and reduce oppression
Follow DE&I strategists like Lily Zheng, Chang Liu and X
Learn AAPI history with these resources
Advance development of Asian leaders through organizations like Ascend Leadership
Continue the conversation year-round and consciously integrate AAPI voices into your internal and public programs
Join in the conversation with the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center
NY Magazine’s 68 Ways to Donate in Support of Asian Communities
Jewish Communities Support and Allyship
Learn about the Zioness Movement and their “inclusion of Zionists in social justice spaces”
Attend programs hosted by the National Museum of Jewish American History (for example of their program from May 20th: In Honor of Jewish-American and AAPI Heritage Month: A Story of Shared History and Solidarity) and other programs by the Contemporary Jewish Museum and The Jewish Museum
Join us every month to be part of the conversation:
CDO & SENIOR DIVERSITY LEADER FORUM | 2nd Wednesday every month | 12-1pm PT
INCLUSION GROUP LEADER FORUM | 2nd Thursday every month, 12-1pm PT